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New River Dolphin Species Discovered in Brazil (Photo)
New River Dolphin Species Discovered in Brazil

New River Dolphin Species Discovered in Brazil (Photo)

Researchers working in Brazil have discovered a new species of river dolphin in the Araguaia river basin, according to the journal PLOS ONE.

Why does this matter? Because last time scientists identified a new species of river dolphin, World War I raged and American women still couldn’t vote.

Only five known species of river dolphins exist in the world, and they represent some of the world’s rarest creatures. Scientists estimate that about 1,000 of the Araguaia dolphins live in the river basin, making them critically endangered

Most river dolphins are known to be a habitat of the Amazon River Basin, but this new species is concentrated in the Araguaia-Tocantins River system, almost entirely detached from the Amazon basin. A series of waterfalls, rapids and other geological barriers can be thought as the major cause.

The animals differ enough genetically from the Amazon river dolphin and the Bolivian river dolphin that they represent a distinct species, and do not interbreed, the study shows. The new species looks quite similar in outward appearance to its cousin, but they do possess a slightly larger brain case.

But the real differences were found in the DNA samples, which helped the scientific team to conclude the dolphin was a new species.

“In science you can never be sure about anything,” said lead author Dr Tomas Hrbek, from the Federal University of Amazonas. “It was something that was much unexpected, it is an area where people see them all the time, they are a large mammal, and the thing is nobody really looked. It is very exciting.” “We looked at the mitochondrial DNA, which is essentially looking at the lineages, and there is no sharing of lineages.”

The researchers said they are worried about the Araguaian boto dolphins’ survival because there appears to be low genetic diversity and the human development in the region is also an ever growing threat.


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